Shortly after joining Byers Ford in Columbus, Ohio, as general manager about two years ago, Chuck Greene became frustrated by the delay between when a customer agreed to buy a car and when that customer entered the finance and insurance office.
So he launched a pilot program to speed up the start of the F&I process.
The pilot was such a hit that Geo. Byers Sons Holding Inc., which owns eight dealerships selling 17 brands, put it in all of the group's dealerships nine months ago.
"People are used to the old way of doing things," Greene says. "But once they saw my numbers jump, they said, 'Maybe we'd better try it.'"
Many dealers, F&I managers and automakers decry the cumbersome, time-consuming process of getting a customer -- who has just agreed to buy a vehicle -- from the sales desk to the F&I office, in part because the delay drags down customer satisfaction scores.
It doesn't have to take that long. To speed things up, F&I managers and dealership consultants recommend the following:
-- Have the sales staff, not the F&I manager, enter all the customer's data.
-- Make sure the finance manager talks to the customer at some point during the sales process to build rapport.
-- Have the finance manager create a personalized F&I menu for the customer.
"The time that customers get antsy is the time from when they say yes to the time they get into the finance office to sign the paperwork," Greene says.
"We fill that void with communication. They're already friends with the finance officer before they get back there."